The Seaforth portraits once hung at the former seat of the Mackenzie chiefs, Brahan Castle (just to the west of the Black Isle in Strathconan), before its destruction in the last century. They include the 17th century portraits of the 3rd Earl and his Countess, who notoriously feature in the legend of the Brahan Seer which purportedly foretold the doom of the House of Seaforth, ending in the family’s extinction with the death of the last Lord Seaforth in 1815 without a male heir.
A portrait of his daughter, Lady Hood, can also be seen: the romantic subject of a poem by her friend, Sir Walter Scott. Other portraits show the 4th and 5th Earls of Seaforth, who were respectively 1st and 2nd Marquis in the Jacobite peerage, the latter being the young William ‘Dubh’ (or ‘black-haired’) who led his clansmen with bravery at the Battles of Sheriffmuir and Glenshiel.
Nearby is Fortrose Cathedral where there is a vault devoted to the Mackenzie’s and the impressive tombs of the last Lord Seaforth and Sir George Mackenzie of Coul, in particular can be seen. The latter was an amateur scientist whose research on breeding sheep pre-empted Darwin’s theory of evolution. Also nearby in what is now Castle Street is the site of Chanonry Castle, the 16th and early 17th century seat of the Seaforth family before they built Brahan Castle. All that now remains is a stone known as the ‘Dormer Pediment’ with the coat-of-arms and initials of Barbara, the 2nd Countess of Seaforth. At Chanonry Point is a memorial stone to Coinneach Odhar Mackenzie, the Brahan Seer, marking the place where he was supposed to have been burned in a barrel of tar under the orders of Isobel, 3rd Countess of Seaforth before sentencing the elder line of the Mackenzie’s to doom and destruction.
The above is a piece written by Andrew McKenzie on the Seaforth Portraits.
On Saturday 17th August 2013, a visit to see the Seaforth Portraits in Fortrose has been arranged and will be made extra special by a talk on the portraits by Andrew McKenzie, MacKenzie Clan Historian. The visit will take place between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. All members are welcome to come along and join us!
The plan is to meet at the Town House in Fortrose at 11.15 a.m. on Saturday morning; we could possibly meet for a coffee first so if you email or write to the Secretary (details below) if you are thinking of coming we can finalise that nearer the time. The talk in the Town House by Andrew McKenzie whilst seeing the portraits will last about 1 hour taking us to 12.30 p.m. We then propose to have a light lunch at the Crofters Bistro in Rosemarkie. After lunch we will carry on to the Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie (free of charge I think), as they have a video of the Brahan Seer. After the Museum we will then visit the site of the stone to the memory of the Brahan Seer at Chanonry Point – first avoiding flying golf balls since it is at the end of the Rosemarkie Golf Course! Following that Andrew is hoping we will be able to visit the stones which remain of the old Chanonry Castle. If interested in joining us please e-mail the Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org